Oscar Pistorius Cleared After Judge Rules He Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend

Former Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has been cleared of homicide charges after a judge ruled that he did not intentionally shoot and kill girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 at the home they shared in South Africa.

The double amputee, who became known as "Blade Runner" after the London 2010 Olympics, still faces charges of culpable homicide, which is similar to manslaughter. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, though his fragile mental state during the last five months of hearings has led some to believe he may get off with a lighter sentence.

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On February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, who was 29 at the time. He claims the murder was a horrible accident and that he believed she was an intruder breaking into their home. He says he shot her dead before he discovered her identity.

More from The Stir: Oscar Pistorius' Murder Trial Begins With 'Blood Curdling' Evidence (VIDEO)

But a neighbor named Michelle Burger provided what many assumed was a damning account of what she witnessed that night: she says she heard "blood-curdling screams" coming from the couple's home and that Steenkamp and Pistorius yelled for help before she heard four gun shots go off.

Though obviously not proof that Pistorius was capable of murdering his girlfriend, the fact that he was previously caught doing foolish things with his firearms -- like reportedly shooting a gun in a restaurant and from inside of a car -- didn't help his public image after the case went to trial.

At his trial, which was broadcast around the world via the Internet, 27-year-old Pistorius could be seen weeping as Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa declared that, while she found he had acted "unlawfully," there were "not enough facts" to hold him accountable for premeditated murder. She also called him "a very poor witness" and criticized him for losing it while being cross-examined.

The sprinter reportedly broke down so many times that the judge called for a month-long break during his trial so he could undergo a mental health evaluation.

Though he may have been cleared of the most serious charge, Pistorius has a long way to go before he is a free man. In addition to the culpable homicide charge, he also faces three separate firearms charges.

What do you think about the judge's decision?

 

Image via Getty Images

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